December 3, 2022

Getting ahead: Women, work and gender equality

A belated #MeToo awakening in Greece has shed more light on abuse of women in the country


A belated #MeToo awakening in Greece has shed more light on abuse of women in the country – Copyright AFP/File LOUISA GOULIAMAKI

Women entering business frequently have to battle against institutionalised sexism and different expectations to men. This can be off-putting for many aspirant young women. However, many women do reach the top and end up with considerable success.

Digital Journal has heard from two women who provided case studies that should serve to inspire others.

First is Naomi Lackaff, Head of Partnerships at Shrapnel, the world’s first blockchain-enabled moddable AAA first-person shooter game. She describes here career as follows: “Having spent a career in tech I am often one of very few women on my team. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to support women in many areas of my life. I have been incredibly fortunate in the roughly twenty years of my career to work with some of the smartest people around, and most of them have been men of impeccable character.”

However, there have been challenges as Lackaff explains: “Even so, they don’t always see what I see. How can they? They don’t share the lived experiences of the women they work with. What they do, though, is ask questions, and stay open to the answers.”

Turning her attention to business strategy, Lackaff recommends some very simple things any company can do to support and reinforce gender equity:  

  1. Pay women the same salary for the same work.
  2. When presented with candidates of equal caliber, hire the woman.
  3. Recognize that good ideas can come from anyone, and actively seek input from all members of the team.
  4. Mentor women in roles more traditionally dominated by men.

She adds that concessions should not simply be made if they do not make sound financial sense for the firm: “I could make emotional appeals all day about the importance of diversity and gender equity, but this is business.”

By this she means: “Business is ultimately about the bottom line, and diverse teams make more money. Countless studies have shown that companies committed to a diverse workforce, and fostering an environment of long-term support and career development for employees of all educational levels and backgrounds, encourage higher productivity and higher quality output. If game makers specifically want to capture the largest available market of players, they must employ a diversity of perspectives on their team.”

Second is  Gloria Wu, Chief of Global Ecosystem Partnerships at Ontology, the project aiming to bring trust, privacy, and security to Web3 through decentralized identity and data solutions.

Wu discusses the technology sector specifically, noting: “The tech industry has a long way to go to achieve gender parity. In recent years, some progress has been made to promote women in tech and ensure they are afforded the same opportunities as men. However, while there’s been some positive progress, there hasn’t yet been enough progress.”

Wu notes that newer forms of technology are helping to redress gender disparity, finding: “The impact that more women would have on the blockchain industry in particular is profound. Blockchain is still in its very early stages, presenting an opportunity to create something new that is truly a reflection of the whole of society for the first time. It’s not too late for us to create real, lasting change when it comes to gender balance in the crypto and blockchain industry, which in turn, will have a hugely positive influence on the outcomes.”

There are steps still to be taken, however. Here Wu recommends: “We need industry leaders, academia, and governments to come together and make commitments to increasing the number of women in STEM courses in particular. Affording women more leadership positions will help ensure that the boardroom is no longer male-dominated. As the saying goes, ‘if she can’t see it, she can’t be it’.”